Twitter Q1 results - What marketers need to know

Twitter has released its first earnings report for 2016 today (26 April), revealing mixed results for the first quarter of the year.

The social network posted earnings of $595m for the period, a figure it noted was at the "low end" of its guidance range, with sales climbing by 36 per cent year-on-year from $435.9m during the same time frame in 2015.

Twitter pinned the blame for slow growth on the fact that brand marketers did not increase spend "as quickly as expected" in the first quarter, so what does this spell for it's future? Here's what marketers need to know.

Twitter is eyeing up video budgets

While global advertising revenue experienced an increase of 37 per cent over the past 12 months from $388m to £531m, the cash flow from advertisers slumped from $641 in Q4 2015 to $531 today – a quarterly dip of $110m.

To claw back ad revenue, Twitter used a letter to investors to hint that it's keen to focus on brand's online video budgets, and will deliver additional features for advertisers this year. "As we outlined last quarter, we're focused on what Twitter does best: live. Twitter is live," read the memo.

Despite its struggles with shareholders, Twitter scored a touchdown earlier this month when it won the rights to stream the NFL's Thursday night games. Today it noted that this quarter it saw a "deepening engagement" of 208 per cent year-on-year in terms of likes, replies and retweets from users driven by new features such as Twitter-Periscope integration, if it's set to capitalise on this then more livestreaming deals could be on the cards.

Its user base is growing, very slowly

As anticipated by forecasters, when it came to monthly active users (MUA), Twitter was slow up on the uptake, attracting just five million new users since Q4 in 2015 to reach 310 million in Q1 2016 – a year-on-year increase of just three per cent.

The social network has had a rocky 12 months. In October it reinstated founder Jack Dorsey as chief executive who has brought about several big changes – including an algorithmic timeline and the launch of dedicated news service Moments – to the platform.

Striking the balance between attracting advertisers and sign ups is proving tricky, but while the year-on-year increase is small, the result is an improvement on last quarter when this figure decreased from 307 to 305 million.

Better tools are coming for influencers and brands

Influencer marketing is a hot topic, and one that's not gone unnoticed in Twitter's 2016 roadmap. The social network claimed that it now has more than 28,000 creators signed up to its Niche platform who, in aggregate, made 111 per cent more money in Q1 year-on-year compared to 2015.

As such it wants to give them more "reach, tools and economics" to help establish itself as the go-to hub for the next generation of influencers.

Additionally, it wants to capture "always on" ad budgets by delivering more transparent and measurable ROI to performance marketers through integration with TellApart and Google's DoubleClick.

A breakdown of Twitter's latest results can be found here.

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